Ripple effect (noun): the continuing and spreading results of an event or action
The scale of the effects of our decision-making can lead to the inability to find comfort in choosing a singular option; thus, leading to decision paralysis. We are usually passively aware of this phenomenon of the ripple effect. Where each decision has the ability to alter the entire course of our life. If we had chosen a different group of friends, we would be entirely different individuals with different sets of beliefs, motivations, and ideologies. If we had chosen a different college to attend, our experiences and opportunities would vary widely from our current experience.
However, despite this sentiment holding true in many decisions we face, it is not often that the decision, and its accompanying magnitude, is spelled out right before our eyes. It is within the conclusion of milestone moments (such as graduations) that truly emphasize the importance of our choices–and making the right one. As a newfound college grad and upcoming JD candidate, I am faced with a decision on a choosing school, where to live, and who I want to be.
As I turn the page into the next chapter of my life, I am faced with decisions. What school should I attend, and, subsequently, which region do I want to live in after graduation? Who do I want to be when I move away, capable of redefining my personal relationships? Where do I see as a place that will foster growth and be conducive to my goals? Where will I find happiness? What are the kinds of people I will meet? Will they like me?
These questions spiral my sanity out of control until my confidence and excitement for what’s to come is evaporated, leaving anxiety in its place.
I’d like to believe that my self-awareness has allowed me to deduce this much:
It is less about the fact that all options seem attractive to me, but more about the fact there are options.
It is the fear that I will choose the wrong option and be doomed to a life of misfortune and missed opportunity. Therefore, my brain enjoys the torture of conjuring up various situations that can justify choosing each option over any of the others.
This has undoubtedly caused for countless sleepless nights. Until one day, I stumbled across a quote that read:
“You didn’t make the wrong decision. You didn’t make the right decision. You made a decision. Now live with it.”
This resonated deeply with me. It was right. Could I justify any number of reasons to pursue a single option over the others? Yes. But what makes an option the objective “right decision”? Because the right decision wasn’t about the school nor was it about the place I would be living. It surely wasn’t about which was more conducive to my goals because they all ‘could’ be. So, what was it? I’d like to think it was the one that would allow me the most amount of happiness in the end.
And my happiness wasn’t confined to a single decision. It would never be. It was about whatever I made of my decision–the action and mindset that follows.
If I were to wallow at my decision and constantly wish I had picked the other option, then, yes, I would have made the wrong decision. Our self-confirmation bias would lead me to notice all the reasons why I shouldn’t have chose my current decision. I would be doomed to a lifetime of regret.
But if I were to embrace my decision with open arms, view it as a blessing, and capitalize on the opportunity, then it would be considered the right decision. It doesn’t matter about the potential for subjectively better outcomes had I chose a different decision. Because those paths no longer exist.
What exists is the life laid out before me. My decision will lead to me to many crossroads, many road-less-traveled-by’s. I would be doing myself a disservice to dwell on a decision of the past, limiting my decision-making in the future.
Maybe you are facing a similar situation as I–torn between the idea of two (or more) decisions. Then I hope you can take as much as I have away from this quote. The objective nature of a decision will not determine if the decision is the best thing for you or not. It is your reaction and/or subsequent actions to the decision.
A right decision does not exist. You determine what is the best decision.
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